Travel Tips

5 min read

Ink or Sink: Navigating TSA Pen Policies for Flyers

Ever scribbled a mid-flight masterpiece only to wonder, "Are these pens even allowed?" Buckle up, ink lovers—we're diving into the high-flying rules of penning it down at 30,000 feet!

Tobi Miles
August 4, 2022

Many people travel for business but even when traveling for pleasure; you may pack pens with you. Pens are a common household item you may just pack for various reasons. Whether functional or medicinal, they're a standard product that you find buried in your bag, but can you bring pens on a plane?

The TSA says you can bring pens on your flight with very few rules on packing. Whether it is a felt-tip or marker, pens are allowed in your carry-on and some in checked luggage. Weed pens must be empty to go on a plane. You can rest assured that your pens will not explode or cause any problems in security or on a plane.

Weed pens, vape pens, and epi-pens have their own specific rules but should not be ruled out for travel. You can utilize the TSA packing tips on traveling with pens to make your trip smooth.

A Quick Look at the TSA’s Rules for Pens 2022

The TSA has minor rules when taking pens and pencils with you on a plane in carry-on and checked luggage.

Credit: Thomas Hawk / Flickr

It is really hard to compare the difference between pens and pencils with the TSA, but it doesn't matter to them. They say that if you follow all safety rules, you can bring pens on the plane.

  • Be sure to pack all pens in your carry-on for easy access.
  • Felt-tip pens and ink pens should be capped to avoid spills.
  • Colored pens and pencils are allowed and preferred for travel in a carry-on.
  • You can pack pens in checked luggage without any problems.
  • At security, there is no need to pull out pens for individual scans.
  • Tactical pens are not allowed on planes but may be packed in checked luggage.
  • Weed pens are only permitted if empty and clean of residue.
  • Vape pens are not allowed in checked luggage, but if brought in a carry-on, they cannot be used in airports or on flights.

Does It Matter What Kind Of Pen You Bring On A Plane?

Regarding carrying pens with you, there are few exceptions according to the TSA. A wide variety of pens can be taken on the plane with you without any extra security. As long as the pens get scanned in carry-on or checked, you should have no problems at the security check.

Credit: Darcy / Flickr

You can pack weed, vape pens, or epi-pens in your carry-on. Weed pens and vapes should be empty and clean for travel.

Epi-pens should be secure with all medications and announced to the TSA agent at the security checkpoint.

Related Read: Can You Bring a Computer on a Plane?

Can You Bring Felt-Tip Pens On A Plane?

Felt-tips pens are an excellent pen for professionals to carry with them as they travel. The TSA says you can bring felt-tip pens with you, and they are clear for travel. Whether you pack them in your carry-on or checked luggage, felt-tip pens are good to go.

Can You Take A Dab Pen On A Plane?

Dab pens are expensive and can be mistaken for a weapon, but the TSA says dab pens are okay. You should pack them in their designated box with all pieces accounted for. At security, they may ask to check the pen and ensure it is safe for travel.

Credit: danielfsnink / Flickr

The TSA says dab pens are best when packed in your carry-on or personal bag for the plane. They do not recommend packing dab pens in with your checked luggage due to the risk of spills. Damage is unforeseeable, and the airlines prefer all dab pens be with you at all times.

Can You Bring Markers On A Plane?

Markers are a must when it comes to traveling with children and some professionals. The TSA says that markers are okay to bring with you through security.

Credit: this is ricardo. / Flickr

They prefer markers to be in a carry-on but checked luggage is okay. Markers must be in your bag securely to prevent them from staining your bag or anyone else’s.

Related Read: Can You Bring AirPods on a Plane?

Can You Bring Highlighters On A Plane?

Credit: Anniepooch / Flickr

The verdict is the same as markers; highlighters are a must for some professionals to bring. The TSA says it is best to pack highlighters in your carry-on or personal bag. The TSA can scan them within your bag, so there is no need to pull them out at security.

Related Read: Can You Bring a Speaker on a Plane?

Are Gel Pens Okay To Bring On An Airplane?

The TSA recommends that gel pens be carried in a secure carry-on bag and not in checked luggage. Gel pens are a fun, creative, and colorful trend many love to use for art and activities. Gel pens do not have to undergo any individual screening and are safe for travel.

Will Any Pens Set Off A Metal Detector?

Only metal pens encased in stainless steel or another type of metal may set off the metal detector. The TSA suggests you empty all pockets and items when going through security. Any pens should be placed in your carry-on bag or within the bins to be scanned in the x-ray.

Credit: Criminal Defense Network / Flickr

Dab pens should be in a case with all essential parts for individual scanning or within your carry-on. Epi-pens or medical ones should also be secure within your carry-on for individual x-ray and possible detection. You should carry these items with you, so you do not set off the metal detectors.

Related Read: Can You Bring An Electric Toothbrush On A Plane?

Will Pens Explode On A Plane?

It is best to take rollerball pens or ballpoint pens in your carry-on for the plane. Some pens may not function properly due to the cabin pressurization but should not explode.

If a pen is in your checked luggage, the cargo bay may not be so fortunate to keep pressurization. This may cause your pens to leak or have problems. Also, tossing bags to and fro can break or damage your pens, causing them to leak or break in your luggage.

How Should You Pack Pens In Luggage?

When pens are packed in your carry-on, you can pack them how you like. Most like to pack pens in the pockets upright to prevent the ink from straying from the tip. Your carry-on should be accessible to you if needed, but the TSA says pens can be in the bottom or throughout the bag.

Credit: Beth Flickr

In checked luggage, you should ensure that your pens are lying horizontally. This will prevent any blocks, clogs, or problems with your pens in transit. Fountain pens, rollers, and gel pens will function if kept in horizontal positions through travel.

Still Not Sure If You Can Bring Pens On A Plane? Ask the TSA

If you’re still unsure about a specific type of pen you care to bring, check the TSA website. You can check if pens are allowed on international flights, so you can plan a trip to Switzerland or abroad accordingly. The TSA has a database of questions and answers to help you pack for your next trip.

If you wish to speak to a representative to help you navigate the site, you can call the support line. This will connect you with a TSA employee that can help you find the answers you are looking for. By utilizing the agent and the site, you can get your concerns addressed.

If you are at the airport, ready for travel, you can ask a TSA agent at the security checkpoint. TSA agents are trained and taught all laws and regulations for travel and can help address any issues. You can also get help and assistance as you go through security checkpoints.


When it comes to traveling with pens, there are a variety of pens that you can travel with, from ballpoint and gel pens to dab pens. Most pens are allowed through security with no issue. The TSA prefers you carry most pens with you in your carry-on.

If you have to check your pens, they suggest you pack them securely in your checked luggage. This will ensure your pens will not get lost or damaged. Pens, markers, and highlighters are safe for travel, and weed pens or vapes should be empty and clean.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding if you can bring pens on a plane, you can find many answers on the TSA website before travel. You can also speak to a TSA agent on the support line that is on the website. You may also get assistance with your carry-on at the security checkpoint.

Article updated:
January 5, 2024

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